Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tequila lime chicken with green onion slaw

Another great dinner.  I'm on a roll!

I was a little skeptical of the slaw at first but I think it turned out great and it got a thumbs up from my husband.

The idea for this meal came from Smitten Kitchen and I followed the recipes almost exactly.  I have made tequila lime chicken in the past and was never very impressed with the flavor, but the flavor in this recipe was really good.  Perhaps it helped that I used chicken tenders instead of full breasts since there is more surface area exposed to the marinade.  Recipes below with my notes in italics

Tequila Lime Chicken
Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa

1/2 cup gold tequila
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper (1 pepper seeded)
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 whole (6 split) boneless chicken breasts, skin on (I used chicken tenders)
Combine the tequila, lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, jalapeno pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts. Refrigerate overnight.

Green Onion Slaw
Bobby Flay

My only eensy concern about this dressing below is that the next day, it looked a bit gritty. It certainly tasted as good as the first day, but didn’t look as pretty, thus if appearance is a primary concern, I’d just make the dressing right when you need it. (I didn't have any problems with this.  I made the dressing the night before and it looked fine the next day)
One more slaw suggestion: I always store my chopped cabbage and vegetables and dressing separately, mixing them a few minutes before I serve it so they don’t get watery or soggy. (again, I think it's fine at least overnight)
1 cup green onions, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 serrano chiles (seed them if you want less spice, leave the seeds if you want it spicy.  I deseeded one and left the seeds in the other)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup pure olive oil (I used 1/4 cup and I think it had plenty of fat)
1 head purple cabbage, finely shredded
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Blend green onions, vinegar, chiles, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and oil in a blender until emulsified. Place cabbage and red onions in a bowl, add the dressing and stir until combined. Fold in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mango sorbet, like ice cream but better!

The only difficult thing about this recipe is getting the consistency right.  If it's placed in the freezer after it's made and gets too cold, your taste buds get a little numb and can't detect the flavors as well.  You really want to aim for a soft serve consistency so you can fully experience the flavors.  Additionally, I've found that it gets rock hard if stored in the freezer, and that's no fun to try to serve!

The mango slurry itself can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you are ready to put it in the ice cream maker.  The bowl of the ice cream maker should be placed in the freezer the night before you need it.

Mango sorbet

4 to 5 ripe mangos
1 can of full fat coconut milk
juice and zest of 1 or 2 limes

Place the juice, zest, coconut milk, and most of the mangos in a blender or food processor.  You may have to process in two batches depending on the size of your appliance.  I have a dying blender so I had to coax it a little bit to get everything to blend smooth.  Blend all ingredients until you reach a smooth consistency and place in a large storage container in the fridge until you are ready to make your sorbet.  It should reach a pudding-like consistency in the fridge and is quite yummy this way too.

10 to 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, place the desired amount of cold-from-the-fridge sorbet in your frozen ice cream maker bowl and process per the manufacturer instructions.  For the model I have I just put the paddle in, put the lid on and turn it on for 15 minutes or so.  When the sorbet has reached a soft-serve consistency, it's ready to serve.  This is especially delicious with some fresh blueberries!


Homecoming plus a delicious jicama slaw recipe

Today was my third day back at CrossFit.  I can't even fully explain how happy and excited I am to be back in the gym.  I've missed my CF friends and I've missed being put in a position to really challenge myself.  There are a dozen other reasons but that's enough for now. 

I discovered this Jicama Slaw recipe online two weeks ago when I was looking for a side dish to go with the puerco pibil I made.  This slaw recipe was so good I decided to make it again this week.  Please excuse the crappy photo

The prep is time consuming but worth it!

Jicama Slaw

2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 small jicama (about 1 1/4 lbs.), peeled and julienned
1 large red bell pepper, cored and very thinly sliced
1/4 head red cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced lengthwise, rinsed, and patted dry
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon minced cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish (I use a lot more)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
Prep all veggies and place in a large bowl.  Combine remaining ingredients and whiz up in a food processor or blender.  Pour over the veggies and toss to combine.  This keeps great in the fridge for a few days.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Starting Strength

I am on vacation, reading through the Starting Strength Wiki, and I came across this quote that needed to be posted.  Regarding rest between sets:

For example, you are trashed from your squats, and you have bench presses next. Well glory be to God, you get to lie your happy ass down on a bench and do some light warmup benches with an empty bar! While your legs (and possibly breathing and overall body) recover from the squats, you are lying down on the bench, happy as a pea in a pod.
In other news, I hate smith machines.

That is all.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Coeur d'Alene half marathon 2011 race report

I finished
This may be the least informative race report ever. 

My day started out at 5:30a.  I woke up just before the alarm went off, immediately drank a large glass of water along with my supplements and ate some leftover pork loin, half an avocado, and some blueberries.

The biggest blueberries ever
The night before, I had laid all my clothes and gear out to make sure I wouldn't forget anything.

Just a little after 6:30a we drove down to Riverstone.  My husband dropped me off and I went to go mill around while he found a parking spot.  While he was parking I made a pit stop at the porta potties.  Luckily I was able to get in line right after the full marathoners left so the line was actually pretty short.  I was surprised at how long it took for the glass of water I drank to go through.  If I was doing it again, I definitely would have given myself a little longer between waking and leaving for the race.  The potties were not bad in the morning, but we passed by again after the race and people were opening doors and immediately closing them to look for another potty.  Use your imagination... or don't.

Amazingly, my husband and I found each other again while we were waiting to line up for the race start.  Not much later, it was time to line up and we said goodbye.  I took a place at what I thought was near the back, but as we got closer to our 7:30a start time, I went even farther back.  I had heard that you can get run over if you line up too close to the front and I definitely wanted to pace myself and not get caught up in the crowd or tripped or run over.

And we're off!  My husband says I am somewhere in here but I have no clue where.

I honestly don't remember if there was a countdown, or a bell, or what they used to start the race, I just know that it took about a minute to get from my starting point to the start line.  I couldn't see the front very well but everyone really seemed pretty courteous and I didn't see anyone fall, trip, or get pushed.  Even though I was consciously trying to stick to my planned pace I was surprised at how hard it was to actually do it. 

The trail narrowed off after about a half mile so we were packed together pretty tightly for awhile.  I saw a number of people walking 3 or 4 abreast, blocking almost the entire trail, and it took a fair bit of patience to get through the first mile and find a decent spot with other people who were going my pace.  There were a couple other sections where I had to pass through a dense crowd, but for most of the race I had plenty of room.

About a mile in?  Feeling strong!

I wish I had some sweet details or funny stories about stuff that happened during the race, but I couldn't have planned a more perfect race, really.  I felt great, I kept a good pace, nothing out of the ordinary happened (well, there was one thing that I was unable to plan adequately for, but it's kind of too much information to post here), and I don't think I could have run a better race.

Here are my stats, with commentary:

Chip time:  2:41:04
Avg pace (chip): 12:18/mi

Garmin moving time: 2:37:04 (I made two pit stops, slightly off course)
Garmin Avg pace: 11:46/mi (this is a significantly faster pace than any of my training runs)
Avg HR: 147 bpm (almost 10 bpm over my training rates)
Max HR: 168 bpm

As I said, I'm really pleased with how I did.  I came in 1146 out of 1412 finishers, which kind of made me chuckle.  Not too great when you compare me against the others, but when you consider that the goal was to finish, and I did that plus ran better than I trained, I'm quite satisfied  =)

Here are some more pics from the race:
Motoring along.  The runners had thinned out by this time
That chick in the purple was tough to get around, but she fell back after awhile.  She would walk and then when I tried to pass she would start running again.
Right before the turn around
Just passed halfway!  Still feeling good
Refueling with dates and coconut oil
Significantly after turnaround... feeling good and rocking out to music  =)
At the finish
Looking a little haggard
Tired, but happy
The dreaded ice bath.  Not as bad as I had anticipated.

Here are some of my best training/recovery tips:
- Strength train. Especially your legs. The course in this race was really pretty flat (I think my Garmin said there was a total of 320 feet elevation gain) so I didn't train for hills but I did squat and deadlift a lot and I really think that helped with the few hills I did encounter. Most of the people going my pace walked up the hills we came across, or they were really laboring to slowly jog up them. I was able to just motor up the hills with no problems, and I really attribute that to the squatting and deadlifting. Learn how to squat to full depth (erm... ass to the grass. Youtube is a decent resource... check out this video), and if you don't know how to deadlift then do lots of lunges and work up to lunges with weight. You will thank me!

- Ice bath after the race.  Maybe it's just me, but I did this, plus a contrast shower, and I was not sore today.  Fill the tub with cold water, dump in a bag of ice, and sit in it until the ice melts.  The water doesn't have to be high... just covering your legs is fine.

- Contrast showers.  It sounds crazy but there is science behind it.  After training, at the end of my normal shower I would just turn the water to cold and make a couple turns in the cold water, then turn it back to warm for a minute, then do the cold again.  I actually kind of started to enjoy it  =|   I did these after a lot of my training runs because they are really supposed to help with recovery.

- Do a short run the day after the race.  Getting some circulation going the day after the race will also help with recovery.  I felt good this morning so I did a 2.5 mile walk with a few intervals of slow jogging.

- If possible, have support along the course.  I initially told my husband not to worry about following me along the course, but he did anyway and I was so glad to see him!  I never really got a 'down in the dumps' feeling but it really lifted my spirits to see a friendly, familiar face and to hear him cheering for me.  He was so sweet to follow my progress, cheer, and take pics.  I love you, Aaron  =D

I'll post more tips as I think of them!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My running strategy, paleo fueling

I realized I haven't really talked much about my running strategy.  Basically, I'm following Mark Sisson's heart rate recommendations for staying in low level aerobic activity range most of the time I'm running.  For me this maxes out at about 145 bpm.  It also means I am probably technically jogging, not running.  Meh.  The reason I'm keeping my heart rate around this level is that I don't want to be burning sugar (glycogen) as fuel while I'm covering long distances.  I eat a relatively low carb diet because I feel better eating that way, and I also feel better when I use primarily fat for fuel during exercise instead of sugar.  After my first couple runs at 150 to 155 bpm, I realized I was going to have to slow it down or start loading up on carbs.  You can see which I chose!

For my longer weekend runs, I try to run the first half of my scheduled mileage at or under 145 bpm.  After about an hour, I start pushing a little harder and that's generally the point at which I'll go for the sugary fuel.  I've tried several different things, but this is what I've settled on.  A variation of Brendan Brazier's Direct Fuel Bites.  Here's the recipe with my modifications and measurements:

Coconut date direct fuel bites, adapted

4 oz pitted dates (medjool or deglet noor are fine)
28g (2 tbsp) coconut oil (softened or melted)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp sea salt  (I used Real Salt for extra minerals)
1 packet Cococeps (totally optional.  I had this laying around and wanted to check it out for the adaptogen factor)

Throw everything in the food processor and process until a smooth paste forms.  Separate into 8 servings.  I found that it's easiest to portion it using waxed paper, and then wrap the individual servings in little parchment squares.  I keep them in the freezer, and right before a run I'll tuck several in a zip lock and put it in the pocket of my hydration belt.  They get soft during a run, but stay in the parchment pretty well and come off easily.

From my couple experiments with these, I have found that one every 30 minutes after the first hour is okay, but for the race I plan to eat one every 20 minutes after the first hour.

Other things I've tried:

Dark chocolate - I thought this would be great because of it's high fat content and little bit of sugar and caffeine.  Maybe a little is good, but I wasn't able to stick to just a little.  And a whole bar before a run is definitely a bad thing for the tummy.

Hammer gel - I tried this once and while the taste was acceptable, by the time I felt any type of energy from the darn thing I was already running way too low on fuel.  Admittedly, this could have been my fault for timing it wrong and I'm sure it would work in a pinch, but it wasn't my favorite solution.

Coconut oil, raisins, cocoa powder, protein powder, salt - This one was okay, but coconut oil is hard to manage when it gets melty, which doesn't take long!  Also, the protein powder during the run and the fiber from the cocoa powder upset my stomach.

Coconut water - I have used this as a sports drink on my long runs up until this last weekend even, but how well it works seems to depend a lot on which brand agrees with your digestive system.  The one that agreed with me most was the O.N.E. brand, but last Saturday at about mile 7 I was just tired of it and refilled my bottle with plain old water.  I am pretty sure I'll just stick with water for the race, too.

So, that about wraps it up for my running and fueling strategies.  I have to say that as Sunday gets nearer and nearer, I'm getting more and more nervous!  I know I will finish, but I think the nerves are inevitable  =)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reasons I love paleo and the paleo community

Paleo eating has:
  • given me a love for nutritious food
  • helped me break my addiction to carbs, sugars, and junk
  • caused me become more adventurous towards foods I would never have tried before
  • given me a nearly bomb-proof immune system.  I have not had a full blown cold or flu in almost 2 years!
  • made me a better, more creative cook
  • evened out my moods and nearly rid me of depression
  • made me more aware of how my body reacts to certain foods
  • rid me of the cystic acne I suffered from PCOS
  • given me the opportunity to share the benefits of a healthy diet with others, including some who have chronic illnesses
The paleo community is awesome because:
  • it is largely made up of thinking people who care about the health of others
  • detailed, valuable information is freely shared
  • there are a lot of people who aren't afraid to call the others out on their dogmatic sh*t
  • it is constantly changing in response to new research, which a lot of 'diet gurus' refuse to do
  • there is a nearly infinite source of free, delicious recipes available
  • paleo bloggers are really skilled at what they do.  Beautiful photos, delicious recipes, thoughful posts, deconstructing research articles... love it!